Strategies in Increasing Coconut Production,
Farm Productivity and Farmers Income
("The Cocommunity" - Monthly APCC Newsletter
Volume 43, Series No. 12, 1 December 2013)
of the strategies discussed during the High Level FAO Expert
Consultation in Bangkok, Thailand on 30 October to 1 November
2013 was on how to increase coconut production, coconut farm
productivity and coconut farmers’ income.
In view of the aging coconut trees in Asia and the Pacific,
there is a need to increase the rate of replanting or the
replacement of senile palms to increase coconut production.
Most governments in Asia and the Pacific region have put up
and implemented coconut replanting and rejuvenation programs
to assist the coconut farmers in replacing their senile palms,
but the availability of good quality planting materials and
hybrids is limited. To meet this requirement, it is imperative
that governments need not solely rely on hybrid coconut seedlings,
and must consider the use of well-selected elite local varieties
for the replanting program. While hybrids are extremely good
in suitable areas with good soil and adequate rainfall, the
mass production and transport of hybrid seedlings is limited
if not costly. Thus, mass selection techniques to choose good
quality mother palms, seednuts and seedlings of elite local
varieties existing in the communities where coconut replanting
is needed should be employed as the most practical strategy.
Governments should also support the establishment of more
coconut seedgardens to mass produce the hybrids. The private
sector should likewise be encouraged to establish commercial
coconut seedgardens as in the case of India. Another option
is to train the coconut farmers and develop their capacity
to produce good quality hybrids in their own farms, as in
the case of the Philippines and Sri Lanka.
The research work on molecular techniques to expand the genetic
base for coconut breeding of hybrids with superior traits,
and the development of a viable protocol for somatic embryogenesis
to produce elite planting materials for the coconut replanting
program must be supported and vigorously pursued. Capacity
building and technical assistance to coconut breeders, scientists,
extensionists and farmers in the Asia-Pacific region to enable
them to effectively implement these strategies must be provided.
The further development of coconut based farming systems (CBFS)
by intercropping and livestock raising should also be promoted
to increase coconut farm productivity and income of the coconut
farming family. The intercropping of food security crops,
cash crops and high value industrial crops like, vegetables,
root crops, bananas and other tropical fruits, spices, cacao,
coffee, and others, which meet the marketability and profitability
criteria of the locality must be promoted and practiced. Raising
of livestock in coconut farms (goat, sheep, beef and dairy
cattle), including the growing of improved grass and legume
pastures under coconut and the raising of native chicken,
ducks and others should not only add income to the coconut
farming family but also promote good nutrition and food security.
Technical assistance, capacity building through training and
provision of material and government financial support are
needed to enable the farmers to adopt and practice CBFS and
good agricultural practices (GAP)
Still another strategy to increase coconut farmers’
income is through value-added coconut processing in the communities.
There is therefore a need to transfer appropriate valued-added
coconut processing technologies which have proven to be successful
in Asia to the small island countries in the Pacific. However,
a careful survey of the market and a thorough and location-specific
project feasibility study for value-added coconut processing
ventures must be done to ensure viability, profitability and
sustainability of the business. Joint Ventures (JVs) should
also be encouraged.
The appropriate processing machineries and equipment must
be sourced out from reputable companies. The scale of the
business operation must be big enough to ensure profitability.
It is important to ensure that the business should have enough
volume to supply the export market at the required quality
and at regular intervals. Skills training and capacity building
must therefore be provided to the technicians, farmers and
entrepreneurs to ensure success. Business mentoring must also
be provided. This may be pursued through south-south cooperation
and other modalities for technical assistance.